Choosing a Home Designer
Hiring a home designer to build your home is a big partnership, so make sure you properly vet your candidates. Here are some points and reminders to get you started on your search and make the right choice.
Building your own home is a far different process than typical house-hunting. Here, it’s all about finding the right home designer or architect to make your ideas come to life and guide you with great suggestions.
These professionals have experience in laying out buildings in a logical manner, taking into account the property on which they will be built as well as the eventual use of the rooms. Hiring an architect is like hiring any other professional: Doing extensive research will pay off in the long run.
Find Some Candidates
You would never buy the first car you test drove. Your home is a bigger investment than any vehicle you own, so give it the same research time before settling on one home designer. Interview three to five prospective Jacksonville design firms before narrowing your choice down to the final one. It will take more time up front, but will pay off in the end when you have a great experience with an architect who understands you and your needs.
Get started by first asking for recommendations from friends and family — even if you don’t know anyone personally who’s been in your situation, the odds are good that someone you know will be able to pass along names of home designers or homebuilding customers. In addition, search directories in websites of professional associations such as The American Institute of Architects’ Jacksonville chapter, or the directory of the National Association of Home Builders.
Interview each design firm to learn details about their experience and work habits, and to get a sense of the intangible qualities that would make your partnership successful. What is the company’s typical style — casual vs. formal, modern vs. traditional?
Each type of firm has its pros and cons; the right one will be the one that, barring any problems, fits with your own personality. Be honest with each home designer and let him or her know you’re interviewing a number of competitors. Find out how each firm would approach the project, the estimated time frame, and the price range in which they operate.
Ask each designer for the address of other projects that are similar to your own, along with the names and numbers of owners willing to speak with you. Talk with these owners and inspect, as much as they are willing, the work the design firm did. At the very least, drive by the home to get a first impression of the caliber of work.
Ask former clients about their experiences with the designer and about any problems they may have had during the design process. Check online to look for any negative reviews that may exist for the firm, and follow up these reviews with emails and, if possible, personal visits to assess the severity of the problem.
Research takes time. But after you put in the legwork, you can rest easy in the confidence that you’ve found the right designer for your project.
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